When I read for the first time Pope Paul VI's 1972 “Smoke of Satan” homily, I was intrigued by his reference to the human sex drive as one way Satan can seek the ruin of souls. The sexual decadence of popular culture—in music, television, and videos—is only the most obvious manifestation. But let us consider from the standpoint of Catholic moral teaching the evils of fornication, adultery, cohabitation, divorce, bearing children outside wedlock and homosexual sex. Controlling these sins, living chastely, is a basic Catholic moral value. But I blog on these because, even as the social and economic results from these practices becomes ever more obvious and serious, priests and laity seem determined to ignore talking of them. No parish today seems willing to admonish or rebuke someone because of sexual misconduct, this in spite of the reality that it is precisely these sins that are wreaking havoc throughout society.
Just what are social consequences of uncontrolled libido? For starters, the explosion of single-parent homes is having overwhelming consequences on society, economy, and politics. The rise in cohabitation and no-fault divorce have left scores of fatherless children on the ever-growing welfare rolls and increases crime and substance abuse throughout local communities. These evils are now bankrupting taxpayers and future generations with huge national debt that is due in no small part to welfare spending and the offshoot of crime and social instability, while driving the federal and state governments to more severe measures to satisfy their need for revenue.
What of our universities? They are plagued by a “hook-up” culture that dominates campus life, while relegating learning to second place. One could make the argument that libido dictates learning too, with indoctrination in not only sex education but sexual political ideology through courses like “queer studies,” that sees all knowledge as sexual-political grumbles.
The oppressive side of this libidinous culture is now becoming too visible to ignore in the face of years of denial, as the inescapable outcome of lustful indulgence is absolutism, plainly seen in a political agenda pushed by the same sexual radicals who promote the hook-up culture. The response of the Church to all this has been silence. Now in turn, Christians find themselves being accused of “hatred” and “bigotry” and threatened with punishment for criticizing the homosexual agenda by the same lobby of radicals. As Martin Niemoeller warned of a similar ideology, no one speaks out for us because we did not speak out for others. Catholic Supreme Court Justice Alito has also weighed in on this.
Truly diabolical is this: because many do not control the sin, it controls them. And--by refusing to internalize divine revelation, and instead redefining it with expressions we find safer to deal with, we let the sin recruit us as its proxies. We join witch hunts against those who would choose the Lord.
Any Catholic should know what constitutes fornication and adultery, because the Bible reveals it. “Fornication” and “adultery” are biblically defined sins committed by two people and punished by God and the moral sanctions of the community. The moral crisis the Body of Christ faces at present is not imprecise or unsound doctrine. Her failing now is lacking the courage to apply its doctrine in the face of a defiant and politicized sexual immorality. Why do pastors now dance round the timeless sins that infest every congregation and the most critical sins that threaten to overwhelm our society? The answer is that they are frightened. All too few priests, professors, parents and catechists give evidence of wanting to touch the subject of sexual sin,
Christianity will survive the Devil’s attack on souls via the libido, though in what manner remains a great mystery.
If the Church Militant has lost its will to witness to the meaning of sex in our congregations, then how does the faith retain any practical meaning in our lives? It borders on hypocrisy to protest that Christianity is being banished from the public square,” when we have not the stomach to defend against violations of God’s law, whether stemming from our ecclesiastical or secular institutions. Abandoning this duty leaves us vulnerable not only to the increasing social chaos we are now seeing,, but also to those who will step in and regulate it for their own purposes, imposing criminal penalties and rationalizing their measures by invoking various alternative, usually politicized theologies.
Perhaps it is also time to can the socially obligatory mealy-mouthed “No one wants to return to the bad old days when.,” and realize that open-ended libido puts us on a trajectory that will only spread chaos, ruin more lives, destroy our freedom, and weaken our civilization, until we summon the courage to speak the truth. As Paul VI observed:
…So we know that this dark disturbing being exists and that he is still at work with his treacherous cunning; he is the hidden enemy who sows errors and misfortunes in human history. It is worth recalling the revealing Gospel parable of the good seed and the cockle, for it synthesizes and explains the lack of logic that seems to preside over our contradictory experiences: "An enemy has done this." He is "a murderer from the beginning . . . and the father of lies,"[Jn 8:44] as Christ defines him. He undermines man's moral equilibrium with his sophistry. He is the malign, clever seducer who knows how to make his way into us through the senses, the imagination and the libido, through utopian logic, or through disordered social contacts in the give and take of our activities, so that he can bring about in us deviations that are all the more harmful because they seem to conform to our physical or mental makeup, or to our profound, instinctive aspirations….
No doubt Pope Paul would agree that the Church does not have to change with the times.., be sifted like wheat, and that the present occupant of the Chair of Peter needs to be the “rock” that Christ mandated him to be. OREMUS.